Flod Embarks – devlog & micropostmortem

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December 25th, 2011 9:21 am

So, it’s christmas, I think, and I finally have some time to write a little about my experience with LD#22. My entry isn’t that great, but still, for what it’s worth:

At first I wasn’t even sure if I would participate, due to several reasons, too little sleep in the weeks and days prior to the weekend being one, and an important 30th birthday on saturday night being the second. I usually don’t have a problem with all-nighters and actually can produce results in 20-hour coding stretches with 4 hours of sleep in between, but this time I was just completely burnt out the night when the theme was announced. I tried to stay up until midnight, take a 2 hour nap to recharge my drained batteries and then start crunching once the theme was announced. I failed. I woke up to my alarm, feeling really dizzy and decided to get some more sleep and start in the morning.

Saturday 11 am: Wake up, ouch, it’s late! Check the theme, check IRC, see what people are brainstorming or making, start thinking… 9 hours until I have to go to the party… some time, just need an idea.. alone, lonely. Actually I don’t feel really creative – its so late already…. Mood is very important to me in a game, “Alone” seems to be a theme that can be supported by mood very much. Music! Ages since I composed stuff. Time to try Greasemonkey’s Autotracker. Run it a few times, awesome. But: happy! Not very alone. All I know about python is that shouldn’t mess with the indentation. Mess with autotracker until it produces a sad tune: all minor, less drums, drums pitched down, slower, fiddle with song structure a little. Great, a kind-of-sad tune!  A bit dramatic with the drums kicking in, but I’ll make that fit somehow. Still not many ideas. Let’s draw a little guy, a robot. A lonely robot in space. Walking animation, here we go. It’s really tiny, I’m running out of time. Let’s scale it up by 4: wonderful. Still no real ideas. Maybe I won’t have a submission. Oh, it’s late, time to go to the party!

Sunday noon: Wake up, ouch, it’s late. Need to start on something soon – will have to go minimalistic. If I decide on something now and follow through I can still make it. So far I have awesome sad music and a sad robot. He’s alone in space, maybe he’ll have to find friends. Really no time to make dozens of worlds to get a huge universe for him to feel lonely in… Suddenly: Star Trek The Old Series… they had one cheap studio but with lighting and different coloured ground, rocks and sky created hundreds of possible planets. An idea starts to form in my mind: An “overworld” where you navigate between hundreds of planets, and then planets that just like in star trek are simple stages, where with a combination of sky, background and ground tiles I can create many worlds with drawing only a few tiles. I draw 8 sets of skies + 9 sets of ground, code a state to combine them: works! I have 72 different possible worlds. Wonderful!

Can I make a quick space-overworld? Let’s try, draw a couple of planets, 13.. will do. Draw a spaceship with thrusters on and off. Start coding “SpaceState”. Need stars/space debris to indicate the current velocity of the ship. Easy but… can FlixelPowerTools’ StarFieldFX do the job? Yes! Place 2000 random planets on x/y coordinates between 0 and 50,000. I want the ship to orbit planets – Hmm.. Sir Isaac Newton, what was that again? acc=mass1*mass2/distance^2.. something like that. Will only use gravity from planets near to the player… Works! Nice, have orbiting ship. Need something like a map to help the player not get lost in space. Little dots pointing towards the nearest 3 planets, works, a little buggy, can’t find the bug, bad luck, no time now to fix it… Teleport animation, done. Let’s allow him to teleport down to a planet and up again. Wonderful. Pretty lonely though. A few hours left, I have a universe and 2000 planets you can visit, but nothing else. Finding friends on some of these planets will have to do, since I don’t have any other ideas. Draw some cute aliens. Put one on every third planet. Now my robot can find friends. Oh! I can use one of autotrackers happy tunes to set a happy mood when a friend is found. Great. Let’s put a little more cuteness into it – add “disappointed” animation when youre on an empty planet, head hanging low, works! Cute, wonderful! Check time: 1 hour left! What’s left to do? Menu, name for the robot/game, little bits. Add an over-ambitious title/menu screen.. Need a name for the little guy! Strain my brain to come up with something. Half an hour left, make Flod (the robot) and his friends dance, hihi cute, fix the music code a little, so the sad tune don’t start over all the time, done. T minus a couple of minutes. Perfect. Screenshots, submission, Done. what did I make? It’s not really a game at this point, but it’s interactive and cute. Not gonna win any awards with this but it’s somehow complete in itself, I’m content.

In retrospective:

What went wrong

  • Timing for the LD weekend – Even though I was really looking forward to it, I managed to have my starting conditions screwed up. Had been working full-time during the day and writing an important paper I need for starting my business at night. For the last 4 weeks, every Tuesday night was writing only and no sleep at all, followed by a day of work and an important date. I was really sleepy on friday.. Also this birthday party I just had to attend was well.. bad luck for timing. In the end, the timing issues though helped to produce something focused and minimalistic, since I tried to make something achievable within this limited timeframe.
  • No real ideas – I blame it to myself being really burnt out from the last weeks.

What went right

  • Putting it all together and making something inspite of these limiting factors – Once I somewhat knew what I was doing, I pretty much was crunching away without running into major blockades or bugs. The simple concept of course helped with that, but also my familiarity with my toolchain: Flash Builder, Flixel, TileStudio.

Where I got lucky

  • Autotracker – Without the mood set by the happy tune I got out of the unmodified autotracker and the sad one I abused the program to produce, my entry would have been far less complete and cute.

Overall: Great Fun!

Can’t mention it enough: Thanks to Gresemonkey for Autotracker!!

// empty planet
if(Flod.mood == “happy”) {
Flod.mood = “sad”;

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